JUST IN | 12 pupils die after scholar transport overturns, catches fire

Twelve pupils and their driver died in a devastating accident on Wednesday morning when the minibus they were travelling in overturned and caught fire.

Seven other pupils were seriously injured in the accident and were rushed to the hospital.

The Gauteng department of education confirmed that 11 pupils from Rocklands Primary School, one from Laerskool Blyvooruitsig in Carletonville, and the driver of the private minibus died in the accident that occurred in Merafong, West Rand.

The department said it received a report that a private scholar transport was involved in an accident that took place in the Kokosi-Wedela area.

“It is alleged that the learner transport was hit from behind by a bakkie, causing it to overturn and subsequently catch fire,” Steve Mabona, the spokesperson for the department, said in a statement.

“This horrific accident is alleged to have occurred around 6.45am. Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident.” 

Counselling teams dispatched

Mabona said the department has already sent its psycho-social support teams to the schools to provide support to pupils, teachers, staff, and affected families.

“Counselling services will be made available to all learners and staff members to help them cope with the emotional aftermath of this tragedy,” he said.

Gauteng MEC for education, sport, arts, culture and recreation, Matome Chiloane, is expected to visit the scene of the accident and the affected schools on Wednesday.

“I am profoundly saddened by this tragic event. The loss of our children is a devastating blow to our community,” said Chiloane.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased and injured learners.

“We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families, friends, and both schools’ entire communities during this incredibly difficult time.

“We also wish all injured learners a speedy recovery.”

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